On their debut album Reflection 1, the Phoenix-area group Ego Tripping have delivered a smooth slide into an expanse of glittering guitar and subtle synth-driven wonder. Throughout much of this piece, the elements cruise along with the gentle persistence of a star in the sky — there’s a real substance to them, which feels poignant, but the tones feel tantalizing, not overwhelming.
Often, the group evolve their sound into an almost completely synth-driven escape. Their song “In Place,” for instance, which opens with lyrical meditations on the “momentary delusion” that we hold, begins with a simmering palette of what sounds like solely spacey synths. When the guitars do come in, their own melodies float along too, like the whole release is pushing towards a welcome moment of self-reflection.
The songs feel psychedelic, but not in an uneasy or unsure sense. Rather, the melodies simply feel like they’re scraping at the edges of familiarity via their consistent forward push, as if listeners are getting rocked closer and closer to an unknown shore by a stream of wind rushing along the top of a body of water. The percussion rhythms, when they emerge on Reflection 1, support this idea — they float along just like the gently rocking guitar rhythm, all of which feels suspended in an immersion of those spacey synths. Meanwhile, all of the singing on this album proves quite soulful and subdued, like the speaker is presenting a unique tale of a far-off land or, alternatively, stumbling into that land for the first time themselves. There’s pretty much always that sense of excitement and wonder in the quivering dynamics that flow throughout Reflection 1.
Adding to the wonder, there are some quite rich dynamics throughout this album, even though the album sometimes feels on the minimalist side. For example, on “Away and Again,” the band’s synth tones feel a bit bigger and louder, packing a bit more punch, like they’ve been swept out of some kind of retro experience. On the album’s lengthy closing track, “Subside,” the band jump into a kind of quickly shifting riffing — they never get “loud” per se, the groove just amplifies.
The album feels like a piece for contemplative questioning in an everyday context. Ego Tripping never get big and booming – instead, they share a refreshingly intimate, softer take on wandering beyond familiarity.
Check out the music below!